The Batman influenced by 70s movies, 80s comics and Nirvana

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The upcoming The Batman comes with a mix of reference points – and director Matt Reeves has been chatting about them.

Every generation has their Batman, and every generation probably believes that he’s the darkest of Dark Knights. Well, maybe not the 1966 incarnation featuring Adam West’s campy Caped Crusader, but Michael Keaton’s 1989 take on the Dark Knight certainly felt like a response to the 1960s show, presenting a darker, psychologically-troubled Batman, living amid a gothic hellscape that we hadn’t seen before.

With the exception of maybe George Clooney, Val Kilmer’s brooding hero (especially given the rumours of a much darker cut of Batman Forever out there somewhere), then Christopher Nolan and Zack Snyder’s Batmen each retool the character into respectively darker territories. From what we’ve seen of Robert Pattinson’s latest take on him, the incoming The Batman looks set to debut perhaps the darkest screen version of the character yet. From Pattinson’s eyeliner-smudged hollow eyes, to the use of Nirvana’s downbeat dirge, Something in the Way, it promises a tortured emo take on the character, as a young Bruce Wayne uses violence as a means to deal with trauma.

The director of The Batman, Matt Reeves, has been chatting to Esquire about the inspirations for his Darker-than-Dark Knight, and unsurprisingly, 80s Batman comics, especially Batman: Year One, are a key influence. That story features a young Bruce Wayne, shorn of many of his gadgets, encountering a seedy Gotham that didn’t look a million miles away from the New York streets of Martin Scorsese’s 70s classic, Taxi Driver. That film is also cited as a reference by Reeves, who says that he too noted that in Year One, “he’s dressed in what I thought looked like an image out of Taxi Driver”.

Finally, Reeves also offers a more left-field influence, reassuring fans who loved the inclusion of Nirvana on the first trailer that the band’s iconic grungy, self-loathing style isn’t just some numbers-driving addition for the sake of the trailer as we’ve see in the past. Instead, the band’s song, Something in the Way, was a key influence on Reeves.

“Early on, when I was writing, I started listening to Nirvana, and there was something about [Nevermind song] Something in the Way, which is in the first trailer, which is part of the voice of that character. When I considered how do you do Bruce Wayne in a way that hasn’t been seen before? I started thinking, ‘what if some tragedy happened and this guy becomes so reclusive, we don’t know what he’s doing? Is this guy some kind of wayward, reckless, drug addict? And the truth is that he is a kind of drug addict. His drug is his addiction to this drive for revenge. He’s like a Batman Kurt Cobain.”

The film arrives in March, and we’ll see just how dark The Batman is then. More as we hear it.

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